The origins and early history of Tai Chi have been somewhat obscured by the mists of time. Many of the stories of the origins relate back to the fifteenth century and a Taoist priest on the Wudang Mountain in China as being the origins of Tai Chi.
It seems to me from studying the history of the art that it perhaps did not originate in one place. The picture that I get is that many different martial arts schools had philosophies and strategies that when grouped together became Tai Chi. As the body of knowledge expanded, the definition of Tai Chi became more precise.
The Tai Chi style currently taught by Ki-Ways is Yang style, with a lineage that can be traced back to the origins of that style through Ray’s Tai Chi teachers, Chris Pei of the US Wushu Academy and the Tai Chi Alliance in Nottingham. Ray is recognised as a teacher by both of these schools and as an advanced instructor by the Tai Chi Union of Great Britain.
No matter what your style of Tai Chi is, the syllabus should contain a mixture of the following four elements:-
- Martial arts – Tai Chi came from martial arts and it should always be possible to relate what you are doing in Tai Chi to martial arts movements. This helps you to focus your intent so that you can understand how to move Energy or Chi.
- Healing Arts – The paradigm for healing arts here is from traditional Asian medicine where Chi or Energy flows in pathways or meridians as used by Shiatsu therapists, acupuncturists and herbalists amongst others. Western medicine has done much research on the beneficial effects of Tai chi and shown it to be an excellent exercise system for maintaining health and reducing stress.
- Meditation – Meditation assists the integration of body and mind to allow the spiritual aspects of the art to unfold.
- Chi - Chi is the binding force that brings together the martial, healing and meditational aspects of the style and differentiates it from other styles.
The scope of Tai Chi is deep and wide. If you are interested in the idea of martial arts but do not see yourself as a martial artist – this is fine. You can go a long way within Tai Chi with this sort of understanding but you will need to at least understand the applications of the moves.
Conversely, if you do want to learn martial arts, Tai Chi is a very effective style. Testament to this is the fact that many other styles such as Aikido, Karate and Ju Jitsu have adopted Tai Chi movements into their training routines.
When you have learned to understand the martial arts applications of Tai Chi, you will have synchronised your mind and body. The next stage from there is “spirit”. The Energetic aspects of Tai Chi come more into play and unravel themselves for you.
The individual pathways in Tai Chi will all lead you up the same mountain. It becomes important that the path you tread is your own path and not that of your teacher or even a teacher who has long since passed away.
The speciality within Ki-Ways is to help you to find the correct combination of the aspects of Tai Chi that are right for YOUR evolution and wellbeing. All aspects of the art will be taught to the level needed by the individual at their current state of health, wellbeing and fitness.